Lots of wrangling around bills lately. Starting this new company (and having about five grand in back-pay outstanding at my old gig) has left me close to tapped out. I'm also switching banks -- no Citibank in the HC -- and I just realized I hadn't paid one of my student loans. Time to take stock:
Low-interest student loans: $12,086.78 High-interest plastic debt: $9,454.02 Unknown medical bills from 2005: ~$2,000 Unknown back taxes from 2002-2003: ~$5,000
Summer back pay: $5,125 Oct salary: $6,300
Monthly minumum bill load: ~$1,100 Travel to LA for niece's Bat Mitzvah: ~$800 New lappy: ~$1,800 Xmas Gifts/Travel: $??? Automobile: $??? 2006 taxes: ~$6,000
At the moment my cash on hand is healthy though most of that is in the new bank account for which I don't yet have a card or anything. But that should work itself out. I don't anticipate having to beg, borrow or steal to make ends meet.
This is actually looking pretty good, all things considered. Chapter Three should be cash-flow-positive through the end of the year, meaning I'm optimistic about paying my Oct, Nov and Dec salaries. If my back-pay from this summer comes through I'll be sitting pretty. If not, I'll still get by.
I can be very austere if I need to. My general cost of living really can be as low as $1100 a month, including debt maintenance. I can live without a car for a few more months, and the laptop (while necessary in the next year) isn't needed right this second. If it all goes wrong, I'll survive with my credit rating intact.
On the other hand, with a possible ear-end surplus, it seems wise to start knocking off those debts. The CC money has got to be the first to go. It's such an albatross 'round my neck, and it eats $350 a month with very little to show for itself. Next after that would be back taxes and then the unspecified medical bill from my ambulance ride and stitches after bike wreck 2005.
I started off this year with the idea of being more or less debt free at the end. I'm not going to get there. Working half-time for the summer and deciding to go start a new company have laid that ambition low, but I don't regret those choices (or really care about debt that much), and anyway I'm more or less on-track to be there soon. Feels good.
That car thing is the big black spot on my mind. I really have no idea what to do. Should I try and buy a used car outright from some dude? A used car dealership? "Certified pre-owned?" A lease? I'm way out of my depth here...